ultrathin and ultrasleek ultrabooks seem to be the new black and the good people of Santa Clara hope to seize a big chunk of the market come 2012.
However, all ultrabooks come with a hefty price tag and this is not something vendors want in a time of economic turmoil. Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently announced that the company’s goal for 2012 was to reduce ultrabook prices to more acceptable levels, $699 to be precise.
Sounds good, but AMD could beat Intel to the punch. According to AMD exec Brian Slattery, talks are already underway with notebook manufacturers to come up with similar designs based on AMD chips. Talks with one unnamed partner are described as “particularly advanced” and we could even see the first designs at CES in January next year.
AMD does not have that many low TDP mobile chips that could end up in ultrathin notebooks, so they will probably be limited to low-end Brazos 2.0 APUs. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 ultra low voltage chips used in ultrabooks cost between $250 and $350, whereas Brazos 2.0 chips should ship at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, Brazos won’t come close to Sandy Bridge in terms of performance and for the time being AMD does not have any low-voltage mobile Llano chips, either. Performance aside, Brazos is still a pretty interesting piece of kit. It offers relatively good graphics and advanced features such as USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps for peanuts.
We wouldn’t like to sound prophetic or condescending, but we have already mentioned the possibility of cheap AMD-based ultrathins a few times this year. Although AMD won’t be able to mach Sandy Bridge performance, Brazos based “ultrabooks” could seize the low end part of the ultrathin market, much like Intel’s CULV chips did a couple of years back, with mixed success.
It could be a very interesting development and we will try to find out which notebook manufacturer is on board, i.e. who will get a lot of angry calls and emails from Intel.